Here’s a story about a most remarkable renovation/restoration
This is something else I’ve been meaning to post because not only is it highly unusual, it’s extraordinary.
A new Oscar de la Renta boutique in New York was undergoing renovations three months ago when something unusual was discovered on the second floor. When workers were clearing out garbage and debris at the end of the space on that floor, something seemed definitely amiss. As they were clearing and resurfacing, something else resurfaced.
Something had been hidden behind a wall, and it wasn’t asbestos. It was a 10-by-20-foot oil painting of an elaborately coiffed and dressed 17th-century marquis and assorted courtiers entering the city of Jerusalem.
Hidden Paradise is the very appropriate tour name given by the Palm Springs Historical Society to refer to The Mesa; an eclectic and beautifully secluded hillside neighborhood. I took all of these photos two days ago, on the last day of the tour for this season. It was a hot one….and I’m not referring to just the tour.
I was invited to go on this relatively new tour, not being aware of how incredibly close in proximity The Mesa is to where I reside. I’m really happy I chose this walking tour from several the society offers because it’s another hidden jewel that I’m told many locals don’t even know about. Even though some of the homes you can see from a distance, you may not know how to get there.
As they say on their website it is truly a slice of paradise. The amazing variety of architecture ranges from the romantic Spanish Colonial Revival of the 1920’s to today’s dramatic contemporary styles. Even one original mid-century modern home that stands out.
With a glamorous past it has long been home to the Hollywood elite (Natalie Wood, Robert Wagner, Cher, Joseph Cotten, Henry Mancini, *Johnny Mercer, Jack Warner of Warner Brothers Studios, among others). Many have been celebrities from the World of Music – singers, composers, lyricists and musicians. Even the cartoonist Lee Holley, known for Denis the Menace and comic strip Bugs Bunny who passed away in his home here just last year. Our guide told us that he was so friendly he’d give away some of his original cartoon drawings.
There are many vacation rentals here now too. One home had no outside windows at all in the front to keep passersby from peering inside. But I’m telling you; never judge a house from the outside.
Unless you’re lucky enough to get an invite to one of Barry Manilow’s fundraising shindigs, you can see his home and that of his friend Suzanne Somers from the outside only. However the area itself which is larger than it appears is striking just to walk around and see the gorgeous gardens. In fact, it was really more of a garden/landscape tour than home tour – walking around for 2 hours+.
A crown jewel of desert architecture, Ship of the Desert, is located here. Designer TrinaTurk (love her clothes) resides here. I’ve seen this home from afar many times. I know a few people who’ve been to a cocktail party inside (there are no hallways) during Modernism week. They referred to Turk as a lovely and gracious host.
Michael, our patient tour guide was very knowledgeable about the homes and the people who lived/lives here and entertained us with some anecdotes and juicy gossip.
I highly recommend one of the walking tours (only $20) when visiting or even living in Palm Springs.
Other tours the Historical Society offers are Golden Era (Hollywood Homes of Old Las Palmas), Inns, Architecture and Glamour,The Tennis Club (Celebrity Haven), Rat Pack Playground (and Frank Sinatra’s Neighborhood in the Movie Colony), among Private Tours (Architecture gems and Palm Springs Highlights).
*Johnny Mercer wrote 1,500 songs and won 4 oscars. He’s probably most famous for writing Moon Riverfor Breakfast at Tiffany’s. Also the Days of Wine and Roses,Autumn Leaves, etc. He was a big fan of Barry Manilow and near the end of his life he donated all of his songs to Manilow.
On the very last day of March I visited SUNNYLANDS to walk through the magnificant gardens and listen to Jazz on the grass. It was the last of a “Music in the Gardens” Sunday concert series in March and it was fabulous.
SUNNYLANDS is a 200 acre historical estate featuring a mid-century modern residence and three cottages designed by architect A. Quincy Jones. The grounds include a private nine-hole golf course, 11 lakes, tennis court, swimming pool, and collection of sculpture and artworks. For more than 40 years, Walter and Leonore Annenberg welcomed political, business, and entertainment leaders to Sunnylands. The couple were among the 20th century’s most generous philanthropists. They donated 500 million to public education and the donation of one of the world’s most significant collections of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist paintings to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.
Sunnylands is surrounded by nearly 10 acres of gardens with more than 70 species of drought-tolerant plants. They are not labeled so that the emphasis is on their visual effect.
*Jazzgrass was put together in 1999 by Idyllwild resident Barnaby Finch to honor the newer and more progressive side of Bluegrass music. He was originally smitten with the music of a short-lived All-Star band, put together at the Telluride Festival, called “Strength in Numbers.” In 2011, Barnaby wanted to perform that music again, and recruited talented locals to play. There’s Don Reed on mandolin, dobro, and guitar. He’s a famous Idyllwild virtuoso who’s performed with numerous artists. There’s Sam Zorn on fiddle, a promising young player who covers everything from jazz to Celtic music. On bass is Bill Saitta, one of the busiest musicians in the Desert—and Jeff Olson on drums, who plays with David Benoit. Pianist Barnaby Finch is the musical director, formerly music director and touring member of Lee Ritenour’s band since 1982. Prior stints include Ronnie Laws, Alphonse Mouzon, Boz Scaggs, and Lionel Richie. His piano was featured on the Lionel Richie/Diana Ross hit “Endless Love.” From 1982 to 1989 Barnaby toured with George Benson, and from 1987 to 1989 he was conductor and musical director.
Photo: d. king
Other people’s photography below:
Sunnylands is a renowned birding area and a photographer’s paradise.
It’s that time of year again….Palm Springs hosts it’s 14th annual signature event featuring midcentury modern architecture, interior, and landscape design, art and vintage culture from February 14-24, 2019.
Join us for modernist tours, talks, shows, exhibits, films, parties, and much much more.
Imagine uncovering lost footage of a young Aretha Franklin making a live recording of gospel music which turned out to be the best selling gospel album of all time? Music that was deeply rooted, because of her upbringing with having a baptist minister father.
And then finding out that Director Sydney Pollack (Out of Africa, Tootsie, The Way we Were, etc.) was the director of a two part evening filmed before a live audience at the New Missionary Baptist church in Los Angeles in 1972. But for technical reasons the film was never released. That is, before now.
Finally unveiled, I was excited to view “Amazing Grace,” at the Palm Springs International Film Festival, watching a 29 year old Aretha at the peak of her vocal powers. You can see Mick Jagger amongst the audience members clapping away and getting everybody to stand. They call it a documentary but this was more likely a musical of a soul-stirring experience. A powerhouse, Aretha certainly earned her title “queen of soul.”
Gospel music is unlike anything else. It’s not for the faint of heart. I wanted to experience gospel in person. So on my first visit to New Orleans I made sure to visit a Baptist church on Sunday for the sole purpose of listening to a live gospel choir. My two friends and I were the only Caucasians in the church. I’m not religious but I enjoyed immensely a room so alive and full of spirit that you rarely, if ever get to witness. It was moving.
The bottom line is that the purpose of this music is to uplift and preach the Gospel through music with the hope of bringing salvation to non-believers; and entertain all people with positive messages and values.
Uplifting and Entertaining with the most incredible voices, it was.
A good painter looks for solutions. A great painter looks for problems – Fernando Botero.
A fascinating behind-the-scenes profile of Columbian artist Fernando Botero. The North American premiere of “Botero” at the 30th Palm Springs International Film Festival was one of the most compelling documentaries I’ve seen in a long time. The figurative painter and sculptor is known as the world’s most recognized living artist – although someone I knew very little about and was curious to find out more.
For starters, many people only know him from his illustrious paintings of distorted fat ladies. Well…turns out he’s much more well rounded (pun intended) than that. He does not only people but landscapes, animals, fruit and sculptures.
Botero’s style is familiar in the same manner that other famous artists are, no matter what they paint. Picasso, Warhol, Monet, Pollock….their style is always identifiable. Botero’s colorful whimsical work with a touch of satire tends to appeal to the masses.
I was blown away by Botero’s body of work including enormous sculptures which grace some of the world’s major landmarks and institutions. You don’t have to like everything, however you can’t help but admire and respect it. Not all art critics understand the thought process behind the artist. Some get it, some don’t. It’s pretty simple. A great artist makes you feel because there’s a story behind every piece of art whether it’s abstract or otherwise. It’s not just brush strokes.
For instance, Botero did a series of paintings of a young boy – boy is sitting atop a wooden horse, dressed up as an officer. We learn the young boy was Botero’s son, struck by a truck early on in life and died instantly. This was Botero’s way of honouring his boy. For a long while the young boy is all he painted. It must have been torturous for him to do so. But we look at the painting not knowing the story behind it and feel what we feel .
Director Don Millar who was here in person for a Q&A afterwards delves not only into the psyche of what makes Botero tick, he also interviews Botero’s daughter and two sons. You see the love and respect they have for their father. They are clearly family people, educated and articulate.
On display: many works by Botero are on display at the Botero Museum in the center of Bogotá, Columbia.
Botero also very generously donated ALL of his private paintings, drawings and sculpures (including works he owned by Picasso, Monet and more) to the Museo de Antioquia in Medellin, his hometown in Columbia. He now spends most of his time in Italy but the donation in Columbia is a positive way to take the focus off of a city which conjures up images of drug cartels, gangsters and kidnappers. The collection is the largest of his work anywhere to date.
I look forward to this time of the year. It always starts off with a bang. The bang being fireworks for New Year’s Eve and after a day or so of recuperation (depending of course on how much partying I do)…..my favorite way to start the year is by viewing & reviewing a bunch of great films at the Palm Springs International Film Festival; one of the largest film festivals in North America. It’s always an exciting time to be in Palm Springs.
On Thursday, January 3, the annual Film Awards Gala will kick off the festival at the Palm Springs Convention Center. The gala honours the best achievements of the film year by a celebrated list of talents.
The screening portion of the festival will run Friday, January 4 through Monday, January 14.
The Festival welcomes over 135,000 attendees each year for its lineup of new and celebrated international features and documentaries. Produced by the Palm Springs International Film Society, the Festival offers 12 days of events and film screenings featuring over 200 films from 78 countries.
I don’t present myself as a movie critic or pretend to be one. I only attend the films and documentaries that interest me personally and blog about it for this website. So I am obviously hoping to “like” everything I see and am aware that what I like, you may not. I’m looking to be entertained and learn something new. And I feel privileged to be given media passes to premieres and special events.
You will do foolish things, but do them with enthusiasm
I don’t know what I enjoyed most about this film. The story, the setting or the exquisite costumes.
For those not familiar, Colette was a French novelist nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1948. Keira Knightley gives the performance of her professional career as Sidonie-Gabrielle Collette in her earlier years as she turned Paris upside-down with her life and work.
As a writer, performer and a feminist, Colette attracted controversy and lived life to the fullest.
You may think that you know nothing of Colette’s writings but many of her works are well known around the world. The film “Gigi” starring Audrey Hepburn was adapted from Colette’s book of the same name and several of her writings have been adapted for the stage and screen.
She was a fascinating woman, married at the age of 20 to a writer and music critic of whom it was said he was a “literary charlatan and degenerate”. Whilst married to Henry Gauthier-Villars she wrote her first books (Claudine series) using his nom de plume “Willy”. The books scandalized France – and made the pair plenty of money.
She was the first woman to be given a state funeral in France before being laid to rest in 1954 at the Père Lachaise Cemetery (the same cemetery I once visited where Oscar Wilde is also laid to rest).
Co-starring a perfectly cast Dominic West as Colette’s libertine first husband, the charming rogue and writer known only as “Willy” who took credit for Colette’s first four novels while sharing a lover with her, Westmoreland’s biopic traces the writer-actor’s life from her provincial upbringing to her halcyon days causing an uproar in the salons and vaudeville theatres of Paris. The core of the film, however, is her fraught relationship with Willy and how the constraints and slights she faced ended up engendering a writing career that made her one of France’s most beloved artists. This is a heady, champagne cocktail of a film made all the more delightful by Knightley’s bravura turn.
Our perfect companions never have fewer than four feet – Colette
Source: VIFF & The Good Life France
Visit Viff.org to see more intriguing films until October 12th
The world is a stage but the play is badly cast – Oscar Wilde
Poet and Playwright Oscar Wilde is famous for many reasons. I’m most familiar with his whimsical satire of Victorian society The Importance of Being Earnest – a classic about love, deception and mistaken identity. A great character study… perfectly cast.
And I saw his lipstick covered tomb at the renowned Père Lachaise Cemetery in Paris, France.
Other than that, I learned a lot more when viewing the special presentation of THE HAPPY PRINCEat the Vancouver International Film Festival (VIFF) yesterday.
No man is rich enough to buy back his past – Oscar Wilde
Actor Rupert Everett gives a simply remarkable performance as Wilde. He also impressively wrote and directed this powerfully empathetic account of the last years of the legendary Irish writer.
A short synopsis:
After spending two years in prison for his homosexuality—”gross indecency” was the official conviction—Wilde exiled himself to Paris, where he continued his self-destructive lifestyle while living in penury. Buoyed only by occasional contact with old friends Reggie Turner (Colin Firth) and Robbie Ross (Edwin Thomas), and with his wife (Emily Watson) and two sons far away, he’s a desperately lonely man who assuages his pain with alcohol, drugs and a succession of young men. Everett was born to play Wilde, and his open, deeply felt film both honours his idol and conveys the essence of a man who, deprived of the things that make life worth living, maintained his ironic sense of humour until the end.
I can resist everything except temptation – Oscar Wilde
A masterful collaboration by documentarians Jennifer Baichwal and Nicholas de Pencier.
A world class documentary that is equally stunning and disturbing. Surreal and sobering. The mind boggling cinematography by legendary photographer Edward Burtynsky was the stunning part. The disturbing part was everything else. It showcases to great effect our unprecedented impact on planet Earth to date.
And there was a lot to be captured. And there is a lot to be fearful for. And there is a lot to change…if we still can.
A short synopsis: scenes of almost inconceivable scale such as monolithic machines hell-bent on terraforming their surroundings, land-fill sites staffed by thousands, heaps of elephant tusks piled high and set aflame, concrete seawalls lining China’s coastline, on and on. Only some of the things humans are responsible for that endanger and change the structure of the planet.
I knew it wouldn’t be a feel-good film. But it was a necessary one. Which brings me to this famous quote: